Wimbledon draw: Youngest qualifier Cori Gauff faces Venus Williams in first round

Cori Gauff faces Venus Williams in the first round while Ashleigh Barty's route to the Wimbledon final could be strewn with former champions.

Cori Gauff, who became the youngest Wimbledon qualifier in the Open Era at 15 years and 122 days, will face Venus Williams in the first round.   -  Getty Images

Fifteen-year-old qualifier Cori Gauff will face five-time champion Venus Williams in the first round at Wimbledon, where Ashleigh Barty's route to the final could be strewn with former champions.

Gauff became the youngest Wimbledon qualifier in the Open Era at 15 years and 122 days when she defeated Greet Minnen 6-1, 6-1 on Thursday.

And she has been rewarded with a meeting with an all-time great in the 39-year-old Venus Williams, who herself was just 17 when she made the US Open final and lost to Martina Hingis.

Williams had won six Grand Slam titles, including two at Wimbledon, when Gauff was born on March 13, 2004.

Gauff is the 2018 Roland Garros junior champion and 2017 US Open junior runner-up – the youngest ever finalist at the event. She is considered one of the best of her generation and touted to be the next Serena Williams.

Barty, whose maiden grand slam success at the French Open and victory at the Birmingham Classic last week has seen rise her to the top of the WTA rankings, is the number one seed in the women's singles but the draw has been no kinder to her as a result.

WATCH | Barty: A part of me still hates tennis

She opens against Zheng Saisai but faces a possible third-round clash with 2017 winner Garbine Muguruza and a quarterfinal against defending champion Angelique Kerber or Serena Williams, who are on course to meet in the last 16.

 

Kerber starts her title defence against Tatjana Maria while 23-time slam champion Serena Williams faces qualifier Giulia Gatto-Monticone in the first round.

Maria Sharapova also features in a star-studded top half of the draw, and there is plenty to whet the appetite in the bottom section, including a prospective quarterfinal between Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka.

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World number two Osaka, the reigning US and Australian Open champion, takes on Yulia Putintseva – who beat her in Birmingham - first up and may have to deal with a fourth-round encounter against another former world number one in Caroline Wozniacki.

Halep, the 2018 French Open champion, meets Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the opening round and could face Aryna Sabalenka in a round of 16 that may also feature a contest between Sloane Stephens and two-time winner Petra Kvitova.